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Copyrighted music on an internet live stream?

New York, NY |
Filed under: Internet law

I am considering starting to livestream myself playing video games as thousands of others do on websites such as Justin.tv and Twitch.tv.

I usually listen to music while I play video games from sources such as my local radio station, my own CD collection as well as internet radio sources.

If I was to livestream myself in this situation, it may be possible for the music to be heard in the background over my voice and the ingame sound.

Would this constitute a copyright infraction? Would this be covered under fair use?

To begin with, the livestream would be non-revenue making, however sometimes people are offered partnerships to play advertisements on their stream and this would create revenue.

Im very confused by all personal research I have done, please help!

Attorney Answers 3


  1. If you are livestreaming audio only, you may need performance licensing. If you are live streaming audio and video, you may also need a synchronization license. Consult with an entertainment attorney.


  2. No, that is not a viable ruse to get around the copyright law. You would be broadcasting copyrighted music and none of the fair use exceptions apply. You need a license to do this. See a copyright

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.


  3. In many (most) video games you can shut off the music or turn its volume down to zero. That would avoid the problem. Otherwise, music belongs to the owner, and all You may also want to clear your actions with the video game owner, since it appears you might end up streaming their proprietary content.

    We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.

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